Is it Safe to Travel to Africa as a Solo Woman?

Recently, Amanda from A Dangerous Business posted a survey on solo female travel. As a woman who happens to travel by herself from time to time, I decided to take part and the results were published a few days back.

The survey said that of all the places women did not want to travel solo – the Middle East was number 1. Africa number 2.

My Africa? So unloved? Whilst I wasn’t completely shocked by this… it did make me a little sad.

Africa is a big place and the survey had the entire continent written off.

Those who read my blog will know that whilst I’ve been travelled a fair bit, the African countries I’ve visited are at the top of my favourites list. I’ve not been everywhere in Africa, but I’ve travelled throughout much of the Eastern and Southern parts of the continent – Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, often alone, but I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly brave or risky traveller.

Why Africa?

When I tell people that I like to go to Africa on my own, I usually get a confused (and occasionally horrified) look and the question “Why?”

Telling your parents you’re going for the first time is even better. Especially when you’ve never travelled that much before and never anywhere by yourself!

Went down a treat like a lead balloon. But my desire to go was stronger than anything anyone could say to convince me otherwise and within five minutes of landing in Zambia, I knew I’d made the right decision to start my trip in Africa.

Africa is an assault on the senses – the smells (some good, some really not so good), the heat and bustle of the local market, where music pumps out of the sound system of the record shop and you can buy anything and everything, hearing drums on the beach at night in Malawi, seeing the great migration of wildebeest across the Serengeti, the anticipation of meeting a gorilla as you trek through mountains in Rwanda, the warm smiles of the people, the real life picture postcard of big, red African sun setting in front of an Acacia tree, the crystal clear waters of Zanzibar, women wearing brightly coloured chitenge carrying babies on their backs and heavy bundles on their heads, kids playing happily with toys made from an old coat hanger, a tyre and stick, or newspaper and tape made into a football – I could go on and on forever…

Is it safe to travel to Africa as a Solo Woman?

There are so many things on the news about Africa. Very rarely do you hear anything positive through the mainstream media – famine, disease, war… as Paul Theroux said in his book, Dark Star Safari “All news out of Africa is bad.”

He was right… but he also added “It made me want to go there.” Me too.

Africa fascinated me. Even now, after spending a year getting to know a little bit of this enigmatic and diverse content, it’s still a mystery to me and I have a lot to learn. However, I strongly believe Africa is still largely misunderstood, ignored because of assumptions, misconceptions and massive generalisations.

There are places I don’t think are safe right now, so I don’t go. After all, Africa houses many of the poorest countries in the world and there are dangers that you wouldn’t find elsewhere else I mean, you won’t get eaten by a lion in France will you?

My opinion? Africa is HUGE and there are tons of places for a woman (or man) to travel safely and many of the risks are easily managed with a bit of preparation and common sense.

Through Helen in Wonderlust, my aim is to show you how it can be done. How I did it. How you can do it to!

And if you don’t want to travel completely solo all the time, you could join an overland tour like I did for a time. Built in transport, accommodation and friends!

Solo Woman in Africa

If you have any questions or concerns about travelling in Africa, or you share my enthusiasm, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

For further info, read my practical Top Africa Travel Tips.

Would you travel to Africa as a solo woman?